Then Sings My Soul: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

A prominent figure once complained about the impact of music upon our young people. He said, “This new music is promoting the moral degeneracy of our adolescents.” We might think this statement was made by someone within the past fifty years, but it’s actually a quote of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

Without question, music has a profound impact on human beings. Music continues to shape and add color to the most important moments of our lives. Spouses have favorite songs that conjure up happy memories of courtship. Certain compositions are immediately associated with specific holidays or other special occasions. Music can be used to change or reflect different moods. Even King Solomon enjoyed listening to David play his harp. It helped him find peace when he was angry or depressed. Music still has that effect on people today, especially spiritual music.


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Then Sings My Soul: Amazing Grace

Almost everybody loves music. People prefer different artists and styles, but it would be tough to find someone who doesn’t care for any of it. The combination of melody and lyrics captures a person’s innermost thoughts and emotions that are difficult to express in any other form. People identify with their favorite songs and develop a connection to others who share their feelings. We often recognize our favorite song just from the first few notes. And the last song we heard can often get stuck in our heads all day. Music has a way of touching the heart as nothing else can.

And this is especially true of spiritual music. Unfortunately, there’s no quicker way to turn holy ground into a battle ground than to bring up the topic of music in the church. Some people want only new contemporary music, others want fine-old hymns. Personally, I love the new praise and worship music. I sing it enthusiastically at church and I listen to contemporary Christian music on the radio. But as we sing a new song to the Lord, I think it’s important that we not forget the old ones.


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Real Love (part 4)

There’s an old song that says, “Love is a many-splendored thing.” The very concept of love is one of the most permeating themes in the world today. The Beatles sang about in the sixties. Their message to a hurt and frightened world was, “love is all you need.” According the New York Public Library database, there are at least 35,533 books currently in print with the word “love” in the title and over 12,958 music CDs. If you Google the word love on the internet, you’ll find at least 11,160,000,000 web-sites that that use “love” as one of their key words, including lovecalculator.com, which calculates the probability of a successful relationship between two people. All you do is type in two names, click “calculate” and Dr. Love will tell you the likelihood of a lasting relationship. I couldn’t help myself, so I typed in mine and Ashley’s names and according to Dr. Love we have a 61% chance of things working out. I thought maybe that was because we have the same last name, so I tried again with Ashley’s maiden name, but then it dropped to 47%!


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Real Love (part 3)

The Bible has a lot to say about love. Jesus said that the greatest commands ever given were to love the Lord with all you heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29). Paul wrote, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). Peter said, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV).

In fact, the word love appears over 600 times in the Bible and no one in the Bible has more to say about it than the apostle John. He’s even called the apostle of love and his first letter is often referred to as the epistle of love. 


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Real Love (part 2)

Do you know how Jesus said that his disciples will be recognized throughout the world? It’s not our views on abortion or homosexuality. It’s not our involvement in a Bible-believing church or our doctrinal stance on salvation. No. What arrests people, what causes us to stand out from the world, is not our convictions, as important as those are—it is love. Jesus commanded us to love God, first and foremost. He commanded us to love one another, to love our neighbors, even to love our enemies. “All people will know that you are my followers,” Jesus said, “if you love each other” (John 13:35). When we can live a life of love, the world sits up and takes notice.


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Real Love (part 1)

Recently, I had the privilege of performing weddings for two committed couples here at the Grove. In each of those ceremonies, I spoke about just one word. It’s a word uttered in every wedding and whispered by every couple. It’s a word the youngest child can write with crayon, yet so deep that only God’s stylus can engrave it on our hearts. It’s a concept as vast as the universe yet small enough to deposit in the humblest home. It’s the largest, broadest, deepest word in the world. It’s the theme of a thousand songs, the topic of a million letters, and the subject of countless sermons. This word occurs 544 times in the Bible and is an infinite attribute of our everlasting God. That word is—love. We talk about falling in love, being in love, staying in love, making love, and loving one another with all our hearts. Our prayers, poems, and promises are all tethered to love.


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The Case for a Creator (Part 5)

In his book Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Charles Swindoll tells a story about the 19th century agnostic Thomas Huxley, who was sometimes called “Darwin’s Bulldog” because of the ferocious way he promoted Darwinism and attacked Christianity.

One day Huxley was in Dublin and was rushing to catch a train. He climbed aboard one of Dublin’s famous horse drawn taxis and shouted to the driver, “Hurry, I’m late. Drive fast.” Off they went at a furious pace as Huxley sat back in his seat and riffled through some of his papers. After a while Huxley glanced out the carriage notice that they were going in the wrong direction. Realizing that he hadn’t told the driver where to take him he called out “Do you know where you’re going?” The driver replied, “No, your honor, but I am driving very fast.”


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The Case for a Creator (Part 4)

If you’re a guest here this morning or you just missed a couple of Sundays, we are now on week four of a five-week series examining the evidence for God’s existence—the case for a Creator.

I began this series telling you about a debate that was held twenty years ago at Willow Creek Community Church in Algonquin, IL, between Christian author and apologist, Dr. William Lane Craig and atheist biology professor, Frank Zindler. Throughout the course of this debate, Dr. Craig produced such a compelling case for the existence of God that an overwhelming 82% of the atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers voted that the evidence for Christianity had won the night. I also mentioned that the debate was thought up and organized by one of the pastors there named Lee Strobel.


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The Case for a Creator (Part 3)

A lecturer in Hyde Park, London was speaking out against religion one day and said, “My hatred of religion is inherited; my grandfather was an atheist; my father was an atheist; and, thank God, I’m an atheist, too.”

Unfortunately, that little tirade is representative of a growing number of people in America and around the world—and so is the logic. According to a new worldwide poll, called “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” the number of Americans who say they are “religious” dropped from 73% in 2005 (the last time the poll was conducted) to 60% in 2013. At the same time, the number of Americans who say they are atheists rose, from 1 percent to 5 percent, with the reminder identifying themselves as non-religious or agnostic. The seven years between the polls is notable because 2005 saw the publication of “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris, the first in a wave of best-selling books on atheism by authors like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett—sometimes called the Four Horsemen of the New Atheism. Sadly, many of these “new atheists” either don’t understand or have never considered the incoherence of atheism.


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Case for a Creator (Part 2)

I like the story of a little boy who was asked if he believed in God. He answered, “Well, yes I do.” When asked why, he said, “Well, I guess it just runs in the family.” Maybe your kids can say the same thing.

Not everyone’s story is like that, though.

When C.S. Lewis, who many of you may recognize as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, came to Oxford University he was an atheist. He had lost his mother at age nine and the rest of his life was spent in boarding schools. He had no use for God in his life and no faith whatsoever. But, while attending Oxford, he met a man who became his best friend—J.R.R. Tolkien. You know him as the author of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien, along with some other friends challenged Lewis to investigate the evidence for God’s existence and the Bible’s inspiration. So Lewis did. It was from that investigation and the encouragement of friends like Tolkien that Lewis moved from atheism to a deep Christian faith. He went on to become one of the most influential theologians and most successful Christian apologist of the twentieth century.

Unfortunately not everyone has a friend like J.R.R. Tolkien.


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